The cause(s) for Con Edison’s July, 2007 steam pipe explosion has yet to be determined. Whether Con Ed is to blame for inadequate maintenance or whether a city-owned water main (broken a few days prior to the blast) triggered the other pipe to burst, nobody knows. It will be awhile before anything is confirmed. Perhaps, we may never know exactly what led to this tragic event.
I believe there are some things we can safely predict. For example, in the years to come:
1. There will be lawsuits and counter-lawsuits aplenty. Suits on behalf of the two people sadly caught in the blast, Con Ed vs. the city, the city vs. Con Ed and each of the building, store and property owners with damages vs. everybody standing. Maybe others too.
2. All sides will produce “expert” testimony. Each party pointing hired fingers at the other side. Each expert will present reasonably logical arguments while possibly obscuring important facts in the process.
3. Regardless of who wins and who loses, all costs will ultimately be passed onto New York City taxpayers and Con Edison’s customers.
4. More explosions, resulting from the city’s decaying underground infrastructure which is over 100 years old in many places, may be expected.
5. City residents will be generally unsupportive of tax increases to subsidize the “big fix” that’s needed underneath our town.
6. Local politicians won’t adequately address the growing dangers or propose important legislation to counter these threats. Heard any yet?
7. When all is said and done, there will be several additionally rich tort lawyers flashing their $1,000 bills to attract the gorgeous blondes in Bungalow 8.
There once was a time when pedestrians crossing NYC streets need only be cautious not to step behind horses or into an open manhole. Nowadays, horse manure isn’t a big concern. Sidestepping manholes, even those with covers securely in place, may still be a wise precaution. Unless of course you want to risk being launched through the 10th floor window of a skyscraper.
Tread lightly New Yorkers. There's a cauldron of trouble brewing beneath your feet.